How to get washboard abs? Do plank exercises, no more crunches! | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

How to get washboard abs? Do plank exercises, no more crunches!

If you’ve been doing thousands of crunches day after day, month after month, then it’s finally time to drop them from your six pack abs routine.  How to get washboard abs then?  Let me introduce you to plank exercises.  Performing planks for abs is a great way to develop a six pack.  It may not be the sexiest exercise for you “manly men” since planks are a yoga movement, but plank exercises are certainly one of the most effective abdominal exercises around.

No More Crunches

Before I delve into specifics about planks, I think it’s important to discuss the drawbacks of crunches.  The first thing to note is that if you want to get washboard abs, you can’t spot reduce belly fat by performing crunches or any other exercise.  You have to lose enough body fat through high intensity exercising and a strong diet before you have any chance of seeing your abs.

More importantly, in my opinion, crunches don’t really qualify as an effective abdominal exercise.  Abs are part of core muscles that are meant to stabilize your body and keep your spine straight.  Crunches involve the exact opposite movement, whereby you flex your spine and “crunch” at your back’s weakest point.  This puts more strain on your lower back and your posture suffers.

Situps solve half the problem since you should be keeping your back straight when performing them.  However, situps really don’t incorporate abdominal muscles; they utilize lower back muscles.  Once again, you’ll walk away with lower back pain and poor posture.  If you’re still not convinced, think of the age old advice of how to lift a heavy object.  Bend at the knees and use your legs.  If you bent straight over, you would likely strain your back.

Why Do Planks For Abs?

Plank exercises are a great way to work your abdominals as well as your entire core.  By forcing your body to stabilize itself in one position, planks work both your abdominal muscles as well as your back muscles.  A significant advantage of planks in terms of developing better looking abs is that they work the transverse abdominus (that holds in the rectus abdominus), while crunches focus on the rectus abdominus alone.  What will happen with crunches alone (aside from back pain) is that your abs will stick out when viewed from the side.

Plank Exercises

There are a number of different plank exercises that you can perform.  The best starting point is the standard plank.  You basically get in a pushup position but instead of resting on your hands, you rest on your forearms.  You hold your back completely straight while trying to hold your abdominals in.  While it may sound easy, the longer you try to perform a plank, the harder it will be.  You might start with 30 second sets and work your way up to 2-3 minutes.

Here are some variations on the standard plank:

  1. Side planks: these target the obliques.  You place one forearm on the ground and balance on the side of your foot.
  2. Stability ball planks: you could either place your arms on the stability ball with toes on the ground or feet on the stability ball with hands on the ground.  The instability of the ball will require you to recruit more muscles to stabilize yourself.
  3. Weighted planks: the standard plank done with weight on your back.  Use caution as you need to ensure that you keep your back straight despite having added weight.
  4. One arm, one leg planks: perform the standard plank but either extend one arm or lift one leg off the ground.  Alternatively, lift one leg and the opposite arm off the ground at the same time.  This will require good balance and help further strengthen your core.
  5. Human flag: a great test of core strength (and arm strength); essentially a side plank with your feet off the ground.  Check out the picture of Jason Statham below:

A Simple Plank Routine

While you can perform any number of planks for abs, a simple routine might just incorporate the standard plank and side planks:

  • 2-3 minute standard plank
  • 1-2 minute right side plank
  • 1-2 minute left side plank
  • Bonus 2 minute “around the world” plank: perform a plank with your left arm extended, then left leg off the ground, then right arm extended, then right leg off the ground, each done for 30 seconds with no rest.

Just perform this routine 2-3 times per week at most.  Abs are like any other muscle in that they require rest.  Plus you use them during other exercises such as pushups.

If you prefer to do more ab training, you can incorporate further core strengthening and abdominal exercises such as renegade rows or leg raises.  Renegade rows require you to be in a pushup position and perform a one-arm row while stabilizing yourself.  You can also do hanging leg raises or lying leg raises.  Done slowly, these focus on the muscles in your lower abs and back.

How to Get Washboard Abs

Building a strong core is the best way to get washboard abs.  Plank exercises are one of the most effective core exercises and abdominal exercises.  A simple 5-10 minute routine performed 2-3 times per week is all it takes to increase core strength (for a more advanced routine, download Abs Blueprint for free).  Don’t perform any more crunches unless you’d like lower back pain, poor posture, and visually unappealing abs.  Instead, spend more time on fat burning workouts so that you will be able to see your abs.

152 Responses to “How to get washboard abs? Do plank exercises, no more crunches!”

  • Word, man.

    I ditched the crunches and sit ups a while back and don’t miss the neck sprains at all! L-sits are another great static hold as well.

  • Static holds are just where it’s at. It’s ridiculous how much more effective they are than standard crunches. Swiss Ball Mountain Climbers are one of my favorite exercises, and after really hammering down on the Swiss Ball Planks, they became so easy that doing them was almost trivial. Before, I would struggle with them.

    Your article is right on the money.

    -Drew

  • Darrin and Drew,
    I agree that static holds like planks and L-sits are the best for ab training. It’s great to feel your core getting stronger as well.

    Dave

  • When I try to diet down for low body fat I start to see my abs and making them pop… planks especially the unstable variety are an excellent ab builders.
    Although I actually dont do any isolated ab exercises these days.. I mostly do front squats, dead lifts and 1 arm rows seems to be enough …besides planks are hard
    Raymond

  • Raymond,
    Compound exercises like the ones you mentioned are certainly a great way to get washboard abs. It’s all about diet and body fat loss. Plank exercises are a nice added bonus to isolate and increase core strength.
    Dave

  • Dave,
    Planks are something that I never did until about a year ago and I think they are great. I never did much ab work and had a decent core from my old powerlifting days. Once I quit lifting as heavy, my core got weaker and I was less stabile when I did heavier squats and deadlifts. I started doing planks and immediately felt better and stronger at the core. I started doing side planks with my feet on a bench and my forearm on the ground. Laying perpendicular to the bench and leting my hip touch the floor and then lifting back to the side plank position. I will do this for eight reps each side. I don’t know what they are called, but I really like them! I guess dynamic side planks, maybe. Ever done them, and if so, what are they called?
    -Kelly

  • Kelly,
    It took me a while to believe in the power of planks, but now I swear by them, especially for core strength. If you’re working out intensity enough to reduce bodyfat, you’ll most likely see your abs. Planks will just enhance them.
    You’ve made up an interesting exercise. It sounds like you’re talking about elevated side planks with a side pushup thrown in. It seems like a good bridge exercise between side planks and the human flag.
    Dave

  • I like the idea of trying it and lifting the legs and arms. I also like doing planks and putting my arms on a swiss ball and my feet on a bench. just for added challenge.

  • Alejandro,
    Having your entire body off the ground definitely requires some good core and abdominal strength. Nice variation!
    Dave

  • Planks are one of those exercises that if you havent done them for a while, but have done other core strengthening exercises they are STILL a challenge no matter what.

    One day ill be able to hang horizontal off a flag-pole. I promise. Maybe.

  • Clint,
    I promise that I’ll switch out Jason Statham’s photo for a pic of you once you achieve the human flag.
    Dave

  • Anjeanette:

    Side Plank pose is one of my favorites. It’s great for the obliques. I found Leeann Carey has a great free yoga video that breaks it down. I thought your readers might want to check it out: http://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free-yoga-video-side-plank-pose/

  • Anjeanette,
    Side planks are definitely great for targeting the obliques. Thanks for the video.
    Dave

  • Planks and side planks are far better than crunches and sit ups to develop abdominal muscles.

  • This is one exercise that you really don’t see many people doing. I like to add a little twist to this exercise by adding dumbbell weights and extending out to strengthen my lower back.

  • LeanPrimalFit,
    I couldn’t agree more!

    Patrick,
    Too few people utilize planks, especially men. I think us guys tend to think it looks wimpy to do them. However, once you start and see/feel the results, they’re well worth it. Sounds like a good tweak to add DBs.

    Dave

  • Sue Diem:

    Where can you purchase planks?

  • Sue,
    Planks are an exercise (see video above). No purchase required.
    Dave

  • Bill:

    Planks are hard work! They make you sweat like you ran 6 minute miles. Perfect post-run routine. Great for your posture as well.

  • Bill,
    I’d agree. Great for your posture and deceptively challenging!
    Dave

  • Jonathan:

    You’re right planks are the best method. How bout using a wall to support your feet keeping your back completely straight, superior effectiveness with out rashes on elbows, by keeping the forearms straight, (gravity 9.8N..increased). For the more experienced try one-hand.

  • After 1 month of pursuing my dreams to be look alike of wolverine of x-men (ha-ha! have idea if who is he?) I already got my washboard abs. I must admit that the actual process of getting abs is not very complicated it does only require a lot of dedication and hard work. My key components are healthy diet, cardiovascular training, and abdominal exercises. I did 30-45 minutes of activities like walking, running, biking, or swimming daily 4-5 times per week plus some abdominal exercise and diets. And I didn’t fail to achieve it. For the beginners, I admit that these steps of yours are much easier than what I did so I think I want to recommend it too.

  • Jonathan,
    Definitely a nice tweak on traditional planks.

    David Paul,
    Sounds like you had all the important components of a fitness program. Congrats on getting your nice set of washboard abs!

    Dave

  • Toni:

    I ditched the crunches awhile back too. The bent-elbow planks are not my favorite exercise but they are key when it comes to developing the abs. I like to sometimes turn a kettlebell upside down and balance on the handle instead of on my elbows. I’m starting to see my entire abdomen really tighten up. It used to fall forward slightly when I did them (then snap back when I stood up ) but not so much anymore. Planks as an exercise are deceptively hard. Most of the guys I know are starting to see the wisdom in performing planks.

  • Toni,
    Good job ditching the crunches. There are so many different ways to play around with planks…it sounds like you’re well on your way to getting tighter abs. I’d like to think that guys are more willing to perform planks; some are just too stubborn.
    Dave

  • Toby becker:

    Wow, thank you so much for theese, im only 16, and have been doing theese for about 2 weeks now, its only a short period of time, but ive really noticed a difference allready! thanks :D

  • Toby,
    Glad planks are helping you out. They’re really the ideal exercise for washboard abs. Good luck!
    Dave

  • kc:

    There is only one way to get your abs. Cardio, cardio and more cardio. Ab exercises are pointless and a waste of time if you don’t do cardio. Reason? Your stomach has a layer of fat and it won’t matter how many ab exercises you do. Yes, you want to do ab exercises to strengthen your core, but you will not see them. You need to burn enough calories to lose that layer and ab exercises a lone will not work.

    Do one hour of cardio a day (try and get to a heart rate of 150) a long with your ab exercises. You will start seeing results eventually. Remember, no matter how skinny you are, most people will still have fat in their stomach. Fat is usually stored in the lower part of the stomach and it’s the hardest to get rid of.

  • KC,
    You’re correct. Fat reduction trumps ab exercises any day. You can’t spot reduce ab fat with crunches or other exercises. However, don’t underestimate the importance of core strength for a healthy body. Good point about stubborn body fat in the lower abs…it tends to be the last place fat is burned and first place it’s stored.
    Dave

  • Nicole:

    Dave,
    I have ab separation after the birth of two children. Because of this, I developed an abdominal hernia. Should planks help repair my abs. Having trouble finding answers for this.

  • Nicole,
    This is a little out of my league. I’d talk to a physician. Planks definitely help strengthen abs and might help reduce or eliminate the hernia. However, you could risk a tear and end up making the hernia worse due to added pressure. This will depend on the size and position of it.
    Dave

  • Janet:

    Started serious fitness plan at age 62 at gym with 24 year old male ranked MMS fighter/trainer 6x week. I do 30 minutes (2 miles) on treadmill or elliptical (ramps up) every day followed by 30 minutes circuit training and weights. Extra 15 minute cardio 3x week including 2 planks. Have love/hate with them. First time could do a few seconds now up to 2 minutes and 8 seconds. Form is important for maximum benefit – body flat, no butt in the air, no abs sagging to the ground. Still doing crunches but after reading this I’m ditching them for more planks to save on neck and back pain. Eating 5 small meals a day heavy on protein and veggies no fat, no carbs, no sugar, no food after 7pm. Cheat a little on Sunday.
    12 week result: lost 15+ lbs., down from size 16 to 10 (inches going fast), abs, arms, legs, thighs, butt noticeably toned. Feel great – will do this for a year until I reach my goal weight and then probably keep doing it until I’m too old to move. Good to remember muscle weighs more than fat so even if weight doesn’t fly off as long as inches do and toning occurs you will lose the weight. Fitness is the goal.

  • Janet,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you’re on a great path with a good plan in place. I think it’s a good idea to drop the crunches and keep up the planks. If standard planks get too easy, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by doing some other plank exercises like side planks or planks with your feet elevated on an exercise ball. Congrats on your results!
    Dave

  • Janet:

    hah! thanks Dave – will look forward to day when planks become too easy….J.

  • Toni:

    Dave,

    I’ve been doing more planks lately b/c of Rusty’s Abs Blueprint manual – and I’m up to nearly a minute a half for both the front and side one. I’m noticing some leaning out of my torso by my ribs and upper abdominals. Are these the ‘intercostal muscles’ coming in? I’m not sure but I had heard that planks do develop them to a certain degree. I googled around for some photos but didn’t really find much. What do you think is going on? It’s actually freaking me out a bit, to be honest. Thanks.

  • Toni:

    I found this photo of Dara Torres who has *great* muscle definition for a female:
    http://eric-morris.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/dara_torres.jpg

    The muscle definition near her upper abs and rib cage is what I’m speaking of. Obviously…mine is REALLY faint compared to hers.

    Is this normally what happens when you continue to lean out? I don’t want to get all ‘he-woman’, just sleek-looking.

  • Toni,
    Maybe it’s just more definition of your obliques? Side planks in particular are great at working those muscles. Obviously you can’t spot reduce fat but perhaps you’re developing muscles that you haven’t worked before. The leaner you are, the more you’ll see muscles like this.
    Dave

  • will:

    Wow, am I glad i found this site. I’m only 14 and ive been doing core workouts for parkour for about 6 months but never done planks. I just got done with a plank workout and I can say I’m never going back to crunches! my abs always stick out when I look at myself from the side, I hope that goes away soon. Would it be good to do a plank workout every other day? Thanks in advance

  • Will,
    Glad to hear you’re sticking with planks. They’ll definitely work your abs in a way crunches don’t. You can do a plank workout every other day. If you wanted to, you could actually train every day for a couple weeks straight if you were trying to get really defined abs. However, in the long term, it’s best to take a day off between workouts. Once you get really good at planks, check out this post on some other exercises you could consider:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    Good luck!
    Dave

  • Russell:

    Hi Dave, thanks for publishing this information, its hard to get unbiassed info with everybody trying to sell you stuff! I am 51, overweight and unfit but have reasonable core after years of sit-ups and leg raises but have been concerned how my abs bulge up when doing them. I have recently started doing planks, but have pain in my upper back and shoulders when doing side planks, I am hoping this could be just poor muscle tone and should improve with more work. Have you come across this before with new plankers?

  • Russell,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the info. The pain in the upper back and shoulders is normal in my opinion. Essentially, your muscles haven’t been conditioned to hold yourself in that position. This is where practice makes perfect comes into play. In time your muscles will adapt and you’ll be able to hold longer and longer. Just keep it up and don’t go back to situps!
    Dave

  • Werner:

    Yo Dave, thanks a mill for the info! Been wondering about doing planks after stumbling onto a article in Muscle Mag a couple weeks ago. Ever since hitting 30 my core’s started to suffer a bit for some reason, something which I found quite alarming, especially considering I’ve been lean and mean all my life. Having said that, I know my diet over the last year or so has left a lot to desire, so the lesson’s been learned and I’ve been quite aware of what I stuff down my gullet of late (though I do find myself wandering at times… ;-P)
    Did my first planking session today and I have to say that it absolutely nails your core! It also makes you realize how strong/weak you really are VS whatever you’re telling yourself in your head. Right now I’m thinking that a strong core should be the bees knees no matter what kind of exercise you do: if your core’s weak it affects the performance of your whole body.
    I’m over impact training and have turned towards Yoga, and I’ll tell you one thing: tension-based exercises are far superior to anything I’ve ever thrown around in a gym! I can feel much more of a spring in my step (literally) and it also feels like my physical agility is increasing, which, considering I’m 6,2″ and weigh in at 240 pounds (which I’m determined to bring down to about 210).
    So, just wanted to pitch in and say that it’s okay for “butch” okes to do Yoga, of which planks form an integral part.

    Take care and keep up the good work!

  • Werner,
    Thanks for the thoughts on yoga and planks. I think in time most people will realize that the plank exercise is really the best way to work your core and yoga does have value in an overall fitness routine.
    Dave

  • laser:

    The plank definitely looks harder than it is, Ellyn. The problem comes when your body begins to adapt to the exercise. It starts to become easier and easier to do. At this point it is important to add a bit of variation to shock your muscles – to challenge them in a way they’re not used to. Only this way can you continue getting results.

    I remember when, after lots of practice, I was able to easily hold a plank for 2 minutes. So I added swiss balls and bosu balls into the mix and was back down to only being able to hold the plank for a minute or so. It was simply something my muscles weren’t used to.

  • Laser,
    Good point about changing things up and challenging your body. Elevated planks and weighted planks are a natural progression as the standard plank gets easier.
    Dave

  • MALIK:

    How many reps/sets should I be doing when starting planks? I’m 6’4 260 I want to get to 240. My stomach is getting tight abs are starting to show, but still have a lot of work. What do you suggest for lower abs?

  • Malik,
    I just do 1 set to failure. Try to work up to 2-3 minutes of a standard plank and then do 1-2 minutes each of left and right side planks. You can finish off with 2-3 minutes of a variation of the standard plank. For more advanced exercises, check out this post:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    Dave

  • MALIK:

    Thanks for the info, your site is very helpful. Most ppl try and sell you something. I’m also going to start running, I’m determined to get a 6pack, you talk about hard work lol.

  • Malik,
    Getting a six pack will be hard work, but in time you can get there. Let me know if I can help along the way.
    Dave

  • nero:

    Just stumbled upon this site when looking to expand my body weight library of work out routines. Was focusing on abs and wanted something other than get-up-sit-ups with kettlebells. THESE are the TRUTH!!! Thanks for the routine and I will incorporate them into my workout regime starting tomorrow!! Thanks a lot and double thanks for the reminder to give the ab muscles a break for recovery.

  • Nero,
    Thanks for the feedback. Hope planks work well for you!
    Dave

  • Chris:

    I’ve recently tried sit ups and crunches but they’ve done nothing for me but make my back hurt. I’ll admit I’m not in the best shape for a 20 year old but I’m trying to change that. I know that planks will strengthen your core but will they effectively help me lose the stomach fat?

  • Chris,
    The only was to get rid of stomach fat is with intense exercise and a good diet. You can’t spot reduce the fat with crunches, planks, or any other movement. That being said, it’s definitely good to include planks in your overall fitness routine to improve your posture and core. Planks will help your abs look defined once you work off the stomach fat as well.
    Dave

  • Kerri:

    Really useful info. Crunches/sit ups always hurt my neck – these are strain free and far more effective :)
    I like to have a book infront of me to read while I do a set of planks. Extended planks are a touch more challening. Extending your hands infront of you rather than underneath. Forces you to tighten your abs more to prevent your ass flying up in the air. Very effective ^^

  • Kerri,
    Great tip on the extended hands plank. Planks on their own should be hard enough for most people but it’s another way to make them even more challenging. Thanks!
    Dave

  • shae:

    Hey dave

    i just had a baby 4 months ago. Before i got pregnant i was at my lowest weight and clothes size.. Now nothing really fits. I have recently got into yoga but i am wondering if planks will help tone the loose skin from having the baby. Also, can you reccomend a ‘baby and me’ yoga site or excersize routine?? -thanks! -shae

  • Shae,
    It’s going to take time after having a baby before you get back in pre-pregnancy shape. Planks or any other exercise unfortunately won’t help with loose skin. That will naturally conform over time. Give it another few months. In the meantime, the best way to cut some fat would be to perform intense exercise like HIIT or circuit training. Planks are certainly useful for strengthening your core but not for fat burning.

    I’m not really familiar with any baby and me yoga sites. My wife took our son to baby yoga when he was younger but never did anything where she and him both did yoga. If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, then you could consider joining a group like stroller strides. That’s the best I can offer.

    Dave

  • Deanna:

    I have just recently heard about planks and was very pleased to come across your site when I googled plank exercises. After reading about how hard they are I was shocked that I could do the standard plank for 2 minutes first try. I’ll admit to some shaking though. I’m going to be 49 in a couple of months. Wanting to get rid of the middle jiggle that snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking. I know I need to do more cardio, just having trouble getting motivated to do it. I love to hike, but I’m indoors alot more in the winter. Any suggestions? Thanks again!

  • Deanna,
    A 2 minute plank is very impressive. Great job! Now you can work up to 3 minutes and then focus on side planks as well! Unfortunately, as you mentioned, there’s no way to spot reduce abdominal fat. You’re going to have to focus on fat burning, whether that’s done through diet, cardio, or strength training. The winter does make staying in shape a bit tougher. Are there any types of exercise you really like except hiking? What type of equipment do you have access to? Happy to help if I can.
    Dave

  • Deanna:

    My goodness. I never expected such a prompt reply. Thanks! I appreciate the advice and will work my way up. So strength training reduces fat too? I am doing 10 minutes of swings with a 15 lb. kettlebell. Also doing some squats and now I will add the planks! I purchased the Soweto Gospel Choir,Voices From Heaven cd and I’m finding it fun to dance and exercise to the upbeat, rhythmic music. I need to make it fun, or sadly, I just won’t do it. I’m sure I could improve my diet. I’m 5’5″ and 112 lbs, but I had two children in my late 30s and I just don’t look like I used to! They were totally worth it though! :)

  • Deanna,
    First of all, you’re already in great shape based on the stats you gave me. As I mentioned, depending on how its structured, strength training can serve as a fat burning workout or can simply help you to get stronger, more defined muscles. Theoretically more muscle speeds up your metabolism but it’s not a huge impact. Dancing is a great form of cardio…no reason that exercise shouldn’t be enjoyable!

    I’m on the same page with you about kids…could I be in much better shape if I didn’t spend so much time with my son? Maybe, but I’ve made my life about balancing family, work, fitness, and fun.

    Dave

  • Katie:

    Dave,
    I really appreciate your blog.
    I have been engaged in “Bootcamp/Cross Fit” training for a few months. My trainer is a huge fan of planks as well.
    Here is my question. I have had a recurring lower back pain for several years. It used to occur about 2-3x per year, but more recently has been occurring about every 6 weeks. I finally had an MRI which revealed a few bulging lumbar discs (probably insignificant) and was referred to Physical Therapy. The exercises they are recommending are targeting the transverse abdominals. The primary exercise is isolating the TA through contracting the muscle. I find this exercise difficult because it is hard to concentrate on that muscle only. I am wondering if the plank exercise is targeting the TA as effectively as what PT is recommending.
    I appreciate your input.
    Katie

  • Katie,
    Sorry to hear about the back problems. I’m not a PT so I’d trust what he/she says. However, I can say that planks are good as they target the TA. Other good exercises are breathing exercises like Farmer Burns stomach flattener and stomach vacuum:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/bruce-lee-abs-stomach-vacuum-exercise-farmer-burns-stomach-flattener-breathing-exercises-for-abs

    Finally, Tim Ferriss describes an exercise he lovingly calls the cat vomit exercise in his 4 Hour Body book. You get on all fours, exhale forcefully, then pull your belly button toward your spine for 10 seconds. Inhale through your nose, take a full breath, and repeat 10 times. This is more challenging than it may sound but it’s great for working the TA as well.

    Hope that helps!
    Dave

  • Planks are indeed an awesome exercise. By the way, recently a guy did a plank for over 30 minutes!!!

    He now holds the new record. Crazy!

  • Jonathan,
    A 30 minute plank is crazy! Wonder how long it took him to work up to that time. Thanks for sharing.
    Dave

  • KJ Sanchez:

    Hey Dave,
    I just want to start by saying that I totally agree w you that planks are a truly beneficial exercise. As a NSCA PT I have 3 fav exercises that I always have my clients do- in no order they are – squats , deadlifts, and planks!! Diff variations depending on fitness level- I myself do planks every time I work out- right now I’m in this powerlifting phase where I do powerlifting push pull split that involves bridging(planking ) and rotational exercises- I just wanted to ask – do you think it’s really a waste of time if I add in some additional crunching – v ups etc?? I add in crunches ball crunches , leg lifts pretty much all AB exercise but only add additional crunches etc 2 a weeks – 3 days rest – wed and sat and sun

  • KJ,
    Glad you’ve included planks in your routine. As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of crunches. Leg lifts are a good exercise. You can of course include variations of crunches but I just don’t find much additional benefit. If you do perform crunches, I’d recommend performing hip bridges or back bridges to help balance out your spine.

    Here’s a post I did on some other ab exercises if you’re interested:
    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    Dave

  • I have been following a well known program and they have a killer abs section with no crunches or situps and mostly plank style exercises.

  • Their is a new Guiness world record for the plank exercise. fifty four year old George Hood a former Marine held it for 1 hours 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds. All I can say is OMG!

  • I was looking around for more info on six pack abs and found your site. I just challenged myself to get them by July, and I appreciated your posts and follow ups to everyones comments! I swim a lot and I lift 3x a week, do you have any diet tips to get the love handles off other than lower calories (you mentioned strong diet) Thank you, Jesse Smith

  • Kevin,
    Glad to hear you’re following a program that recommends planks over crunches.

    Kevin@Plank Exercise,
    That is pretty incredible. I can’t imagine staying in that position for any more than 5 minutes, let alone 1 hour 20 minutes.

    Jesse,
    Sounds like you have a good plan in place with lifting and swimming. For the diet, there are a couple approaches you can take. First, the best thing is to eat pretty clean meaning you try to avoid sugar and saturated fat. Next, I like to incorporate a combination of intermittent fasting, calorie cycling, and cheat days to help burn fat. I’m happy to delve into more details on any of those. You can also check out some of the posts I list here:
    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/fitness-tips#diet-weight-loss-tips

    Dave

  • Malik:

    Dave I last posted over 2 months ago weighing 260. I’m down to 230,diet and alot of running I haven’t started planks yet but tomorrow I will. My Abs look really good just have to lose that last bit of lower belly….

  • Malik:

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,

  • Malik,
    Losing the last bit of fat is always the biggest challenge. You could either try to continually attack the fat with an aggressive diet and exercise program or go into maintenance mode for now and then do an aggressive approach to surprise your body in a month or so. Planks will help increase your definition and core strength but as you know, you’ll have to get rid of the fat using other methods to really see your abs. If you need any other diet or exercise tips, I’m happy to help. You could start by reading some of my older posts if you’re interested:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/fitness-tips

    Dave

  • dex:

    my wt is 147 lbs..im 6ft flat..i need to gain weight because my ideal weight is 162 my BMI is 19-20..my metabolism is high i think i have a mild hyper thyroidsm..it so hard for me to gain weight..i eat at lot of calories.. i want 2 have six pack..my abs are not visible only a little..shall i maintain my weight and do planking..or eat hi cal and do planking?im totaly confuse…how can i rid fats in my tummy if i need 2 gain weight..i look skinny but i cant rid my tummy fats in my lower abs..

  • Dex,
    What you’re referring to is commonly known as the “skinny fat” syndrome. I’ve been meaning to write an article about it but haven’t gotten around to it yet. In my opinion, the best way to attack your situation is to eat at a slight caloric excess while performing high intensity exercise like HIIT and strength training. The extra calories will help you add muscle and the exercise will help you burn fat. Core exercises like planks will help strengthen your abs but you’ll obviously have to lose body fat to see them. Lower abs are generally the most stubborn for men so don’t stress if it takes some time to get rid of them.
    Dave

  • peter t:

    hey http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com Started exercising about three months in the past and no abs. Questioning what I’m doing wrong. Any good resources?

  • Peter,
    You’ll probably just have to give things time. Eat well, exercise 3-5 hours per week, and the rest should take care of itself. Happy to answer any specific questions.
    Dave

  • Kate:

    Just came upon your website about 10 days ago and switched from sit-ups to planks. I wanted to get an early start on getting rid of the excess chub from winter, and I found the perfect solution.
    In just over a week, I’ve lost a full inch around my waist and hips! I’ve been doing planks daily, just 1 minute at a time, 2-3 times a day, along with my regular exercise and being more conscious of what I eat.
    It’s a great feeling to put my jeans on and not have them be snug. :)

  • Kate,
    Great to hear you’re making progress! In fairness, I’m sure your regular exercise and healthy eating contributed more to your weight loss than planks, but it’s certainly helpful to strengthen your core.
    Congrats,
    Dave

  • Ellen:

    Hey Dave I joined a cage fitness class about 2 months ago and we do a lot of planking among every other imaginable exercise, but I’ve been gaining weight rapidly 10 lb in 2 months…. My norm weight is 130-140 just had a baby….I was 160 when I began the class now I’m 170. My diet is the same as its always been (before eating for two) and the baby weight was coming off well before I started the program so I could really use some advice.
    Ellen

  • Ellen,
    Sometimes you gain weight when you start exercising due to muscle gain but I doubt you gained 10lbs of muscle in 2 months. How do your clothes fit though? As for the diet, are you sure you’re not eating more? Sometimes starting an exercise program leads to increased hunger and you end up eating more calories than you burn through exercise. Another possibility, were you nursing before and stopped? From my understanding, nursing helps with weight loss. Finally, how often do you attend the cage fitness class? There’s a chance you might not be exercising enough or that you might be exercising too much. Happy to help further if I can.
    Dave

  • Tim:

    Searching the internet, I stumbled across this article. I’m 15, and I’m a big-time runner. I’m not fat, but I also do not have nearly as much definition as I should considering I run a TON! I’m skinny but my very lower stomach still has a lose flab that really bothers me. All the other guys in cross country all have six packs, I’ve done ab exercises consistently, never seems to work. All I’m asking for is a toned stomach, not even abs, ahaha. I’m gonna start doing planks, I hope this will help and produce different results than loads of crunches/side crunches. Good article!

  • Tim:

    Add on to my last comment.

    Kevin,
    There was a girl at my school last year who held her plank for 1hour and a half. Its posted on the school wall, haha. She’s actually a friend of mine. Someone needs to tell Guinness Records about her.

  • Tim,
    Losing that last stubborn ab fat is tough. First question I’d ask, how is your diet? When I was younger, I exercised a ton because of sports and maintained a low body fat but always had an extra layer of lower ab fat because I ate garbage…Oreos, pasta, Dairy Queen, Burger King, you name it. If you really want those tight abs, then start by eating as cleanly as possible…lean meats and veggies are a good place to start. Assuming that’s in good shape, you might just need to develop larger ab muscles. Do some planks and then move on to this more advanced routine:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    Take a video of your friend doing a plank for 90 minutes and submit it…that’s very impressive. Probably generate a ton of Youtube hits as well!

    Dave

  • Hi,

    i have an ab lounger chair from one them shopping channels in fairness i have not give it a fair go to see any major results. I’m currently doing Slimming World and have 3 stone 1.5 lbs off and now 12.5lb to target I would like to start toning proper (i have been doing Zumba classes and now can do 45 mins on the cross trainer along with slimming world) and read that crunches are definitely no good in comparison to ‘planks’. I have tried to do a plank and lasted seconds (understand this will take awhile to build up) but I was told if your body shakes then basically get no benefit from it that I need to be still if this is the case I can literally only be still for maybe 3 seconds is this normal?

  • Elizabeth,
    You really don’t want your body to aggressively shake since the point is to stabilize your core. If you can’t hold a plank on your elbows, have you tried doing it with your knees on the ground? You could also try a pushup position (with knees on the ground) if that is easier. Gradually work up doing a plank without knees.
    Dave

  • swellmel:

    this darn thing keeps closing before i submit it to you.
    hope i don’t duplicate.
    I’m 86 yrs old. 5’3″ 138 lbs. I usually do one hour exercise 3 times a week. treadmill for 20-30 minutes and then 1/2 hour of lite weght bearing stuff. Do you think i am too old to attempt the plank?
    if so, how often and how long between doing it?
    Many many thanks Mel

  • Brittany:

    Im just trying to flatten my stomach, what should I start eating to make sure I get te nutrition I need as well as the results I’m looking for. I’m already skinny, and am blessed with a high motabilisum. I never eat anything healthy, I eat steak, McDonald’s, burger king, pretty much fast food every day multiple times a day. Do I HAVE to change what I eat to get the flat stomach I want?

  • Mel,
    Sorry for the delayed response. I must have missed your comments. I don’t think you’re too old to attempt a plank, especially if you’re active. Just like anyone, you may have to start with some easier variations first, like a simple pushup position with knees on the ground. Then you could progress to the full plank.
    Dave

  • Brittany,
    Your diet sounds similar to my high school diet. Despite a lot of exercise, I never got great abs because of it. In my opinion, calories matter up to a certain point but then the quality of food does have an impact. It’s not impossible, but I think it’s extremely difficult to get a really flat stomach with a bad diet. So if you really want to eliminate that last bit of stubborn fat, then you might need to clean things up…stick with the 75/25 rule…eat well 75% of the time and allow yourself some leniency the other 25% of the time. Sorry for the discouraging news…
    Dave

  • swellmel:

    Dave: thx for your response. It is appreciated
    Yes, I am quite active for an old geezer but i can hold the plank position for only about 12 seconds. then my arms shake.You suggested the pushup position with knees on the ground. Do u mean to actually do pushups with knees on the ground or just to hold the arm position with knees on the ground? Is there a video of that exercise on your website.
    Many many thx, Mel

  • Mel,
    12 seconds is a good start. Try to add 1-2 seconds every time you do it. My comment about the pushups was to hold the position with your knees on the ground. However, if you can already do a plank for 12 seconds, you could try doing planks with your knees on the ground. Or start by doing the full plank and when your arms get tired, rest your knees on the ground. Plenty of different variations. The key is to keep your body straight.
    Dave

  • chitty:

    I am not sure if anyone can help! I am 5’3 female. I was about 220 about a year and half ago. Now about 132. I cut all carbs except for the cravings here n there. I eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of coffee with whole milk. But eat mostly chicken and eggs, salads, greens. I run about 30 minutes 5 times a week and have been doing sit ups but my stomach is still flabb. I do have a 10 year old plus twins. But do not want to use that as an excuse. And my stomach has a large tire ring! ANYSUGGESTIONS?

  • Chitty,
    Getting rid of that stubborn belly fat is a big challenge. It’s even harder because your body may not have fully adapted to your new shrunken state. In other words, your skin was stretched out when you were 220lbs and it takes a long time for it to shrink back down. Keep up the good diet and consider implementing some intense cardio sessions from time to time to ramp up fat burning. Unfortunately no amount of crunches or ab work will help you shrink the skin any faster. Keep cutting fat and you’ll hopefully get to the point where you have a nice flat stomach.
    Dave

  • Chitty:

    Now Dave, you know that is not what I wanted to hear!! Heehee!! I wanted to hear that you had the magic “task” for me to do for a few weeks and finally have this belly taking care of!
    Chitty

  • Chitty, I think we all share your enthusiasm for a magic pill or exercise that will help us immediately get in perfect physical condition. But it’s all about the experience of working hard, right?

    In all seriousness though, congrats on all the effort you’ve put in. It’s amazing that you’ve managed to lose 90lbs! Keep up the good work and let me know if I can help in any way.

  • Do you find it ironic that we have gone back to the basics in our work out routines? Most of us don’t need fancy gyms with personal trainers running around with clip boards. Good old fashioned plank exercises have been around for years and the fact remains that planks work wonders for your core and your abs.

    I started Yoga 7 years ago and was impressed how easy it was. I was always wondering what people were talking about when they mentioned core workouts because I never felt anything in my core because I stopped working the core the day I graduated from high school.

  • sean:

    How do you get rid of the lower belly fat, I try to run a mile a day and go to a kickboxing gym and do ab ripper x from p90x every other day but the lower belly fat just doesnt go away, I dont really eat unhealthy, hm i wonder what it is.should i eat more veggies ? I dont think I eat that many veggies..

  • Sean,
    Lower belly fat is the worst, especially for guys. It’s one of the most stubborn areas which means it takes the longest to eliminate. It sounds like you’re doing everything right. The fiber from veggies is good. Another way to eliminate stubborn body fat is through intermittent fasting. Everything will require patience though when you get to low levels of body fat. If you still need to lose a couple pounds, just take it slow…1-2lbs per month while performing strength training to ensure you’re losing fat and not muscle.
    Dave

  • Chris:

    Hey Dave im 13 and i was wondering can i germ washboard abs yet? because all the girls at my school love guys with washboard abs

  • Chris,
    The next few years will be a great time for you to start training. For now, just focus on eating good foods, trying to avoid sugar and junk food, and staying active. Bodyweight exercises and planks would be a good to implement now and you can layer on weight training in a year or two. Just like anyone, six pack abs are all about losing fat…just don’t try to lean out too much, especially at your age. Let your body grow and get enough nutritional calories.
    Dave

  • Nickster:

    Hello Dave,

    I’m looking for abs exercises and stumbled on your site. I really like the way you explain things up. I’m 23, 5’7 and just started to realize that I need to have 6pack abs or good large arms. I envy people who have those and would really really like to have one. I’ve started last June lifting dumbells and barbells. I really have a problem in the lower part of my abs. It’s just flabby. I think i have those “skinny fat” syndrome that you’re referring. Can I lose flabby part of my tummy through barbell/planking/dumbell training? I really hope to get a feedback from you soon. Thank you!

  • Nickster,
    Thanks for the compliments. Have you lost a lot of weight since training last June? If so, it can take your skin time to adjust to your newer leaner body. Overall though, for guys, the most stubborn body fat is generally in the lower abs. You really have to get down to low body fat levels to eliminate it. In other words, keep up the high intensity training and keep your diet in check. Slow and steady works well in this situation since losing too much weight too quickly means you might lose too much muscle in the process. Barbells and dumbbells should help you maintain your muscle mass and planks will help strengthen your core. Hope that provides a good starting point for you.
    Dave

  • Jbwink10:

    I’m wondering if planks are hard on your low back? I’ve done crunches for years and am looking for new core exercises- but I’ve had low back pain for a long time due to facet syndrome? Thanks for the info!

  • Jbwink10,
    Planks are much easier on the back than crunches. They do however require some back stability to build overall core strength. Give them a try…I’m guessing you’ll never go back to crunches.
    Dave

  • 8844:

    Hey there.

    I’m a 25 year old female, 5 ft 10 and 151 lbs, hoping to lose a stone, tone up and generally just get fit. I’m going to be doing an hour on the exercise bike everyday, planks and carry out the hip hop abs routine 3 or 4 times a week for variety. I’m just wondering what calorie intake will aid me to achieve my goal and how long will the transformation take?
    I’m not in any rush and don’t want a quick fix diet, I want to change my lifestyle, get into a good routine and get my body into great shape. I have some lower belly fat that I would like to shift and 2013 is going to be the year that I do this :)
    Thank you for your time, I’m very glad I came across this site as you’ve been giving everybody some great advice.
    Many thanks.

  • 8844,
    Sounds like you’re already in pretty good shape so hopefully a few incremental changes will lead to the transformation you’re looking for. Given where you are, I’d aim to lose 1-2lbs per month. If you decide that you do want to lose faster, you could go up to 4-5lbs, but I think 6-12 months would be an ideal time to lose a stone.

    Figuring out calories can be a bit of a challenge. Based on your stats, your BMR is 1520. Assuming you’re moderately active 3-5 days per week, you’d theoretically burn 2350 calories per day. From there it’s a question of how much weight you want to lose per week. If you want to be aggressive and lose a lb per week, then subtract 500 calories per day. In other words, target 1850 calories per day. The caveat is that these equations aren’t always the greatest in figuring out how many calories to eat. Instead, you could consider a general equation that a lot of fitness experts go by…eat 10-12x your target weight in lbs. In your case, you’d like to weigh around 135lbs, so you’d eat 1350 to 1620 calories per day. That’s probably low since fitness experts tend to push you to get in shape faster. My best advice is just pick a number, see how things go, and adjust every week.

    Second thought that you may or may not consider…think about incorporating some strength training or HIIT into your routine. I don’t know much about the hip hop abs routine so maybe it includes some of those components already. The reason I say this is because steady state cardio like the exercise bike combined with a caloric deficit can often lead to muscle loss along with fat loss. Strength training will help you maintain muscle (or even gain) while you lose fat. If that’s of interest, I’m happy to point you in the right direction.

    Good luck!
    Dave

  • 8844:

    Ah Dave thanks you so much for your detailed response. That has helped a great deal. I’m definitely going incorporate some weight training and HIIT to maintain muscle as you mentioned. Planks are a treat aren’t they. Ha. So much harder than it looks but you can really feel it affecting your core. Beats crunches any day of the week. Many thanks for your help Dave. It’s is much appreciated.

  • Glad I could help. Hope it goes well!

  • Baz:

    While I agree that fat loss and cardio is needed in order to see the abs, it is not possible without an exercises, including the plank. I am at about 8% body fat and naturally pretty lean but still don’t have abs and that’s because while they are there they are not developed so aren’t very visible. No matter whether your abs are covered in fat or you do cardio or not, you won’t see your abs unless you develope them and make them pop

  • steph:

    i have a stubborn baby fat that i would love to get rid off would planks help ?

  • Steph,
    Unfortunately no. You’ll get a tighter core but to get rid of the stubborn fat, it’s all about diet and intense exercise.
    Dave

  • Aurea:

    Can anyone please give me a routine that’ll work all of the ab muscles? I’d like my obliques to show more but I’m confused about repetitions and such. Thanks

  • Aurea,
    I’d focus on leg raises and planks for your core and side planks and renegade rows for your obliques. You can do 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps of leg raises, 1-2 minutes of standard planks, 30-60 second side planks (each side), and 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps of renegade rows.
    Dave

  • loggsy:

    Hi i do a 5min standard plank and a side plank with a obliuqe twist i also do weighted leg raise and weighted incline situps and weighted crunches plus i do barbell pullovers for my anterior serratus is this a good routine do you think i should stop the crunches i do this tuesdays and thursdays every week love the blog 10/10

  • Loggsy,
    I’d be careful with the weighted incline situps and weighted crunches. Aside from risking a back injury, those exercises can lead to “bulkier” abs. If that’s the look you’re going for, you could consider keeping them but watch closely for back pain. Probably easier to stick with planks, leg raises (hanging and/or lying), and possibly through in some hip/back bridges to balance things out.
    Dave

  • Matt:

    I’m 19 5’10”, 145lbs and have come across planking because it was introduced to me in Army BCT along with extremely difficult excersizes. For personal reasons I was discharged, and haven’t done a plank exersize since. Through basic training I obtained a ‘4-pack which is good but they’re not really defined. my lower ab area has no tone but I’ve got a v-line. can just doing plank exersizes really help me define all of my ab muscles?

  • Matt,
    To get some more volume, you can start doing hanging leg raises and bent leg feet to the bar. If you want to work on obliques a little more, side planks and renegade rows are what I’d recommend. This post has my preferred ab routine:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/pack-abs-workout-routine-diet-plan-exercises

    I’ve since varied it a bit, but the fundamentals are there.

    Dave

  • William Jakobsson:

    I got a low body fat but still no good abs. I didn’t work out my abs that well. Now that I’ve read this I really want to start doing planks. I am fit but still no washboard. If I start doing planks. Can you give me a more precise schedule for a, not a beginner. I am well trained but yes you can say beginner at abs. I really want my abs to show more, like a washboard. The biggest problem for me is the obliques, lower abs and the line between my abs. Especially in the middle. I’m not very strong but if I start doing planks. Will it get better? The shape and lines? As I said, I already got a low body fat.

  • William,
    Getting the line between the lower abs is really hard and will take time. Here are a couple other posts I’ve done that provide routines:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/pack-abs-workout-routine-diet-plan-exercises

    I’d be happy to answer any other questions after you’ve read through those.

    Dave

  • William Jakobsson:

    Thank you! Which work out routine should I start with? I’m not very strong I my abs and I get a strange feeling in my genital area when I do hanging knee/ leg raises and they are to tough for me.
    About the diet. I’m 16. Should it be enough to just quit empty calories and such?
    After these routines. Do you think, if I do them well enough. That the lines will show better? I can see my vains on my lower abs. But still no good lines between abs. I’m not looking to build up to much muscle, by the fact that I do not want bulky abs. I rather have neat flat clean abs. If you know what I mean but is that just genetics? If I get lines between my abs etc.

  • William Jakobsson:

    The links you sent me is to difficult to me I think. Should I start doing only planks? Which planks?

  • William,
    You’re still young so you have plenty of time to get your abs to pop. Start by doing a standard plank for a few sets. Once you can work up to 2 minutes without stopping, you can add in side planks (work up to 1 minute each side). Another good supplementary exercise for obliques is renegade rows. You could do multiple sets of 3-5 reps. Once you get the technique down, you should focus on lifting heavy lifts.
    Dave

  • Rob:

    Is it possible to achieve results highlighted above if you are not a young person? I’m 57 and have been combining excercises (planks and bicycle crunches amongst them) with dieting. I’ve lost weight everywhere – but the stomach area – and lower abs area – where the layer of flab is proving stubborn to remove. At the moment I’m 153 lbs and I’m 5’10”

    I would welcome your advice on how I can improve what I’m doing!

  • Rob,
    Lower abs are generally the most stubborn area for guys. Not sure what your overall body fat is, but you’ll likely have to get below 10% (and stay below) to get the nice line through your lower abs. Obviously being older makes things harder because your metabolism slows but if you keep up with exercising and a strong diet, you can gradually burn the stubborn fat.
    Dave

  • Nico Robben:

    I like planks a lot. I know you say not to but I like doing something like an Ab Coaster or Abdominal Extension Machine, then some Leg Lifts or Hanging Knee Raises with straps, and then I finish with 3 sets of Planking for 5 minutes or more with some side planks. On days when I am not at the gym before bed I do 3 sets of Planking as well. I hope thats a good routine if not please critique.

  • 78 years old. Jazz musician. Teach a yoga class. As of yesterday started the plank. Will let you know the results. It’s fun to challenge myself anew.
    thanks,
    Arlene

  • I’m looking for abs exercises and stumbled on your site. I really like the way you explain each and every thing in your post. I’m 25, 4’7 and just started to realize that I need to have 6pack abs or good large arms. I envy people who have those and would really really like to have one.So can you help me how i will get it.

  • Wow,I really feel good that i found this site. I’m only 20 and Ive been doing core workouts for park our for about 6 months but never done planks. I just got done with a plank workout and I can say I’m never going back to crunches! my abs always stick out when I look at myself from the side, I hope that goes away soon. I got a low body fat but still no good abs. I didn’t work out my abs that well. Can you help me how I will get good abs.

  • Rob:

    Hello AdminDave

    Could do with some good advice please……I seem to have hit a brick wall!!

    Over a period of time I’ve lost quite a bit of weight – unfortuatelely it looks like I’ve lost a fair amount of muscle as well as fat (my arms and legs look more like matchsticks now!) which has led me to conclude that all the excercising I’m doing is wasted to a degree because I’m losing muscle not gaining it. And my abs are still not visible (there is plenty of loose skin!).

    My question is – should I take a protein supplement? and if so, which one. Unfortunately mt stomach seems to be intollerant to milk – anything more than half a cup – and I’ll get an upset stomach – which rules out the main whey type of protein powder supplements available.

    My wife is telling me I am looking like Crazy Legs Crane – a cartoon character – which is not the effect I want

    Hence my request – I’ve read so much conflicting advice by so called experts on the web, that I’m hopelessly confused now as to what to do next

    I look forward to your reply…..

  • Ava:

    Getting six packs abs is not that easy. Everybody wants his body to be in well shape with six pack abs but it takes a lot of efforts and time and top of all a good instructor to guide you towards right directions in getting those beautiful six pack abs.

  • Rob,
    Sorry for the delay in response…busy enjoying a vacation!

    I assume you haven’t been doing any strength training while you were trying to lose weight? If that’s the case, then immediate add some…ideally with weights. The challenge of course is that you’re probably “skinny fat” based on your description. You don’t want to put on too much weight since you can’t see your abs and you don’t want to lose weight because you don’t have enough muscle mass.

    Here are a couple suggestions:

    1. If you really want to gain muscle, then put aside your focus on abs for now. Start lifting weights. Eat about 15x your target weight in calories. If you’re gaining more than 1-2lbs per week, you’re probably gaining too much fat. I wouldn’t worry too much about protein…if you can get 1g/lb, that’s great but just ensure it’s more than 100g per day. I can get into specific weight training routines if you’re interested but this comment is already getting long.

    2. Take a very slow approach and aim to gain 1lb per month. Again, lift weights and focus on eating quality foods. Eat higher calories on training days, lower calories on off days. Incorporate intermittent fasting if possible. Basically, do the Leangains approach:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/intermittent-fasting/martin-berkhan-leangains-guide-the-best-muscle-building-diet-plan

    Hope that’s a good start. Happy to go into more details.
    Dave

  • Rob:

    Hello Dave,

    Thank you for your reply – your advice is really good and it is much appreciated!!

    I hope you had a great holiday!!

    You’re exactly right about being “skinny fat” – its become more exaggerated over the past four months! I wish I’d found this site six months ago – there is so much good information here.

    I’ve also discovered another issue – whilst I’ve done a bit of weight training – I’ve not gained anything because I’ve worked out my protein intake has been on average 50 – 75g / day – nowhere near enough!

    For the next six – twelve months I’m going to re-focus my efforts on muscle gain / eating properly (I’ll probably follow the leangains approach).

    I’m going to read up on weight training regimes and try out some of these (I’ll start by looking on this site first). Unless you have any specific suggestions of good effective programmes to look at.

    Once again, thank you for your invaluable advice!

  • Rob,
    Always happy to help. It sounds like you’ve read through a lot of my articles but you can check out more here:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/fitness-tips

    If you’re looking for a more structured routine, then check out Visual Impact Muscle Building:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/workout-routines/visual-impact-muscle-building

    I’m a big fan of author Rusty Moore’s style and approach and have used the program successfully in the past. I’m actually going through my own iteration of it again right now and seeing some pretty solid results.

    If you need more personalized advice, just let me know. I can lay out a routine in the comments or separately via email. I think you already have a good handle on what you have to do though.

    Dave

  • My husband is a fitness freak and keeps trying different exercises to built his body. As he is a bit on the fatter side he also has to take care of his weight also. So do you have any valuable tips for him? Thanks or the same.

  • DZ:

    Which is harder the planks on the forearms or the straight arm ones?

  • DZ,
    If you’re targeting your abs, then stick with forearms on the ground. Straight arm ones will still work your abs but involve your wrist and arms more.
    Dave

  • I regularly work out.of late I started doing these sort of exercises. But I am getting severe hip ache.Is it due to these or any other reason? I am a single 35 years male. I regularly go for biking.

  • Absolutely, agree that crunches are not the exercises to train abs. It is maybe good for toning, but it is really bad for lower back.

    Doing different sorts of planks have helped me to train my midsection really effectively. I like these sorts of workouts as they are very safe, but effective.

    Great tips!

  • I am an aspiring fitness trainer and presently doing a job in a
    local gym at Orange city,California.I am presently working on
    the programme of building abs and found your ideas very useful and educating.The video demonstration is very precise.Using planks is definitely a better option than crutches.Resting on forearms would work on triceps as well as on the abs.Women often complain of weaker triceps and abs and hence I guess I can suggest this exercise to them.

  • Very good tips given here. I started working out recently and try crunches and planks for sometime. But as Walterforbes has mentioned, I too get lower back pain while doing crunches. Can you suggest any out to overcome this pain? Thanks in advance.

  • HockeyPlayer9:

    Just started planks about 2 months ago and they’re awesome. Doing body weight workouts and find them to be superior to regular weight training. I have a question though. Are planks best to do before or after my body weight workouts?? Thanks in advance!

  • I’d do them after your bodyweight workout to avoid possible injury/poor form that could come from having a fatigued core.

  • HockeyPlayer9:

    Thank you Dave. That makes complete sense. I appreciate the reply!

  • carter:

    Hey im 13 i don’t really exercise due to lack of motovation, and i can see a 6 pack there if i “flex”, and im curious if planks will get them to show when i stand without “flexing.” Will they?

  • Carter,
    Planks will help you develop core strength but seeing your abs is more about low body fat. You can develop some deeper abs with these exercises:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/six-pack-abs/most-effective-ab-exercises-best-ab-workout-for-men-women

    Dave

  • The plank is the best abs exercise but needs to be done correctly in order to get a strong core and be an effective

  • rajbeer:

    I have introduced planks into my workout last week. Just wan to know how to reduce the upper fat so that I can see my abs. Plz give me some tips . I am desprate to hav six pack

  • Rajbeer,
    Ab exercises won’t get you a six pack if you have too much fat. Eat well, do some high intensity cardio, lift to keep up your strength and muscle mass, and you’ll get there over time.
    Dave

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